During my job hunting, some companies responded very fast to me while others took up to several weeks to reply. Some companies either rejected me or gave me an offer few days after an interview, while for other companies the hiring process took far longer.
I did not know how to handle this very well, which let to a situation where I accepted an offer and started working full-time for one company, while still interested in another company. I did not inform this other company about accepting an offer and starting a full-time job.
I felt bad about this situation and informed this other company that I am seriously considering other offers and perhaps if they have a better candidate they should go ahead with him or her.
This company was still interested in me and I attended a second round interview and they wanted me to start working for them. However, I would be a contractor and the process is taking a very long time. I was fairly informed about this beforehand and the company treated me well and ethically.
I did not return the same favour however. For example, when I could not attend an interview at some specific time (because I was sitting in my new job), I told them I already have another interview with a different company lined up and wanted to reschedule.
Since the process is taking so long, the company (or rather the people I am in contact with) started to feel bad about it, are very apologetic and even offered me more money to make up for the waiting and postponing, which in their eyes has cost me money by not working and rejecting offers from other companies.
What has happened is that because the process is taking such a long time, I gradually added to my lies and the lie has very different consequences now than when I originally started it.
I only intended for them to not cancel my interview with them, because I was sincerely interested in them more than in the company I actually started to work for, but I also wasn't willing to refuse all offers just for a promise of an interview.
Now the lie means I am gaining an unfair, manipulative advantage and making people feel bad. My question is: how can I come clean, prevent risk of exposure and mitigate damage? I believe if I told them a month ago they would absolutely understand, but since they started to offer me more money for waiting, they would see the lie as betrayal of trust and would potentially (and quite understandably) not want to work with me anymore. Please note that this is a small company with very personal approach, I am not dealing with HR.